City Charter requires adherence to former boundaries
Manny Lopez | Downtown News
Though Downtown San Diego is no longer part of Council District 2, the possibility exists that a resident from the city center could wind up representing it.
Kevin Faulconer resigned his District 2 council seat March 3 to be sworn in as San Diego’s mayor and complete the remainder of Bob Filner’s term.
Since the District 2 vacancy did not occur as a consequence of a successful recall election and there is still a year or less left in Faulconer’s term, the City’s charter and municipal code mandate that the full City Council appoint an interim representative within 30 days of the vacancy to complete the four-year term, which ends in December.
The rules further state that whoever is appointed must live and be a registered voter within the geographic boundaries of the old District 2, as it was configured before the redistricting that took place in August of 2011. That reconfiguration — which reassigned Downtown neighborhoods to District 3 — was a result of the latest U S. Census report.
Potential appointees must also gather nominating signatures from at least 50 qualified registered voters within the old borders.
That translates to the voters who selected Faulconer as their councilmember in the original election are now the ones helping to choose his successor.
In a report by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to the City Council, the City’s top legal advisor wrote, “If the new boundaries were to be used, courts have held it would unconstitutionally deprive the original District voters of their ability to place someone in the Council seat.”
According to Bonnie Stone, deputy director of elections and information services for the San Diego City Clerk’s office, three applicants from the 92101 zip code are among the 19 that have filed application papers and are qualified to be considered for the District 2 appointment. They include Robert C. Coates, former San Diego superior court judge; Ricardo A. Flores, chief of staff for District 9 Councilmember Marti Emerald; and James McBride, a former small business owner and management consultant.
The person chosen will focus on addressing the needs and concerns of the current District 2 neighborhoods of Bay Ho, Bay Park, Linda Vista, Morena, Midway, Mission Beach, North Bay, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach and Point Loma.
Under city rules, the appointee will not be able to run for the seat in the upcoming November election.
Although the City Council itself is a non-partisan body, the recent vacancy has left it with a 5 – 3 Democrat majority. If another Democrat should be selected, they would have a 6 – 3 super-majority, giving them the ability to override any mayoral veto.
“It’s obvious that whoever is appointed is going to be a Democrat,” said Gary Smith, president of the San Diego Downtown Residents Group, a nonprofit that has been involved with community issues in all Downtown neighborhoods.
“As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter who is appointed,” Smith said. “The person will be representing the new District 2 and any of our concerns are really immaterial to the councilmember.”
Downtown resident Laura Garrett said her hope is that whoever is chosen to fill the seat will be someone who is capable, thoughtful and will not operate with a mindset that is strictly limited to one part of the city.
“One way or the other, I think it’s an interesting place we find ourselves in,” Garrett said. “I anticipate that the folks in the running are all just really great candidates that will represent the city well no matter what their address.”
A complete list of applicants and more details about the appointment can be obtained at the Office of the City Clerk or by visiting sandiego.gov/city-clerk/elections/cd2/index.shtml.
—A native New Yorker, Manny Lopez is a freelance journalist and photographer who started his writing career in La Jolla. He now covers San Diego and Southwest-Riverside counties penning news, features and business profiles. Manny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
** Update: As of Monday, April 7, San Diego Lifeguard Union Chief Ed Harris has been appointed to the District 2 City Council seat. Read more here on kpbs.org.